Verizon and Nokia are building private 5G networks for businesses

The tech is designed to replace WiFi in "industrial-grade facilities."

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Verizon will work with Nokia to create private 5G installations that can replace WiFi in large “manufacturing, distribution and logistics facilities,” the company announced. The idea would be not to enhance existing public 5G networks, but to create private and customized on-site mobile networks. Companies could then use them to communicate, connect to business apps and more.

The private 5G networks would be pretty complex and, no doubt, expensive. They’d consists of micro towers along with small cells, and connect to a company’s local area network and enterprise apps, according to Verizon. The company is also working with Microsoft on 5G applications for “computer vision, augmented, mixed and virtual reality, digital twins and machine learning,” according to Microsoft.

5G could work better better than WiFi for large facilities spread out over wide areas, especially outdoors and inside vehicles. “WiFi 6, the latest iteration, struggles to provide connectivity outdoors,” the company wrote in its private 5G info sheet. “5G handles handoffs between user devices at the network level, unlike WiFi which uses device-based handoffs. This makes it better at keeping devices that are moving connected.”

Verizon noted that 5G currently uses licensed spectrum, so while interference would be less of a problem, businesses would have to pay “nominal fees” to deploy it. However, the benefits could be huge when the next phase of 5G 3GPP rolls out, as the upcoming ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC) and network slicing will be particularly beneficial for industries.

Companies like Audi have already said that they want to completely replace WiFi networks with 5G, and it would be ideal for shipping ports, along with manufacturing, oil, gas and chemical companies. Verizon noted that international markets are already moving to set up private 5G networks, and it clearly wants to get in on the ground floor in the US.

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